The Marico District is situated in the North-West Province of South-Africa.
The town Groot-Marico (it means Big-Marico) is named after the Groot-Marico river, one of the few perennial rivers in this area. The name has got nothing to do with the size of the town, which is a typical North West town, small but brimming with historical charm and atmosphere.
Groot-Marico is well known for its beautiful African bushveld surroundings and the special kind of hospitality of its people. It is the ideal place to come to when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life.
The unpolluted environment and clean air accounts for one of the area's most incredible attractions - a marvellously brilliant starlit sky at night.
Tourism in Groot Marico developed from very modest beginnings during the late 1980's and has slowly and organically grown in an incremental way as part of an integrated community development approach. The main drawcard for visitors is eco and cultural tourism.
Local ‘must-do's' include a sundowner sunset cruise on the Marico Bosveld Dam; Potjiekos at Lekkerbreek Boereklub' a Raft ride to Die Oog (the eye of the Molopo River); local wine cellars; the crocodile farm; game drives; the Home of the Lion; Kaditshwene Ruins - an impressive heritage of 17th century people; Kortkloof Tswana Village; Bushveld Tours; the Marico Dam Nature Reserve; and the Bushmen rock paintings.
More than five veldtypes in the Marico indicate the large ecological diversity which is reflected in the presence of the second most bird species in South Africa (more than 430 species have been identified). Some 200 indigenous tree species make this a peerless Bushveld destination only 200km from Gauteng.
In addition to countless game farms, with everything it implies for a visitor, like game viewing, hunting safaris, nature outings and hiking routes, the Madikwe Game Reserve is the fourth largest in the country, almost 80,000 ha in extent and supporting 30,000 animals.
Groot-Marico is well known for its hiking trails through the beautiful Bushveld surroundings, some on game-farms. The Sterkstroom Hiking Trail is almost halfway between Groot-Marico and Swartruggens, close to the Twyfelspoort Dam and is a beautiful area with mountains and valleys. The hiking trail is approximately 10 km in length, and includes a waterfall only accessible on foot. It can easily be walked in a day. Other hiking trails that beg exploraration are the Bobbejaankrans Hiking Trail, Klein Marico Poort Hiking Trail, Schoongezicht Hiking Trail, and the Vergenoegd Hiking Trail.
The Marico Bushveld Dam, also known as Riekertsdam, forms part of an irrigation scheme which provides farmers with water during the dry seasons. This dam is also used extensively for water sports like fishing, skiing, sailing etc. Anglers are well served, with clean unpolluted water.
Don't miss Eye Of Marico - a unique inland Scuba Diving location. Clean crystal clear fountain water offers breathtaking under water scenery. With a depth of 16m and diameter only 40m, here you'll experience the beautiful under water lily jungle.
Culturally, there is much on offer. The Marico district contains rock paintings by early San and Bushmen people and an old watermill (now a national monument) on the farm Naauwpoort. Also at Mabotsa, is the ruin of the first mission erected by David Livingstone. A Tswana culture at least 1000 years old is highlighted by the vast iron age settlement of the Bahurutshe at Kaditswene.
Battlefields dating back to the early 18th century testify to the relentlessly waged competition for scarce resources in the area. Groot-Marico was one of the places where Boers and British were fighting during the 1899 - 1902 war. Kleinfontein, Bokkraal and Wonderfontein were some of the places where they engaged in battle. There is a small cemetery on the farm Wonderfontein where some British Soldiers were buried.
Many of these people and events were immortalised in the stories of Herman Charles Bosman who in no small way contributed to the present popularity of the Groot-Marico as a tourist destination. A literary society named after this, South Africa's most popular English writer, was established in Groot-Marico some years ago.
The Art Factory showcases the arts and crafts of at least 30 of the areas local artisans and provides an opportunity to acquire some unique and authentic African artwork. Café Verre is a friendly glass studio where all are welcome. You can browse around the studio whilst watching glass artists or students at work. Spend a half day learning about creative glass work, then create your own masterpiece which is fired in the kilns overnight, and collected the next day.
Groot-Marico also became famous for a special drink, called Mampoer. It is made from fruit and is also known as 'moonshine'. If you're brave you can try it, but be warned it has a very high alcohol content. The method of testing if the Mampoer is strong enough, is to put a match to it. If is burst into flames, it is good, otherwise it is not strong enough!
You'll find a selection of eateries, in Groot Marico - and plenty of friendly locals who will be more than happy to tell you about the unique attributes of this fantastic piece of South Africa.
Nearby is the town of Swartruggens, the name referring to the series of black ridges (hills) that surround the town. Attractions include a visit to African Game and Art (an ostrich farm offering tours and rides, and a well-stocked curio shop that also sells refreshments); Diamond Mine (diamonds were discovered north of the town in 1932 and today a few mines and small diamond diggings are still operational); Madikwe Game Reserve, Lindleyspoort Dam, Swartruggens Dam, and Elands River Battlefield and Graves (a battle took place in this region during the Anglo-Boer War between 1899 - 1902).
The list of nature and culture-based options will fill your time, but for something a bit more hedonistic, you could take an 84km drive through the remarkable landscape for a visit to the fabulous Sun City, one of the world's most intriguing resort complexes and home to the fabulous Sun City Golf Course and Sun City Casino.
Closer to home the Centurion Country Club offers a well designed and challenging 18 holes for any golfer. It has beautifully manicured greens and some unique features and challenging holes that are surrounded by water.
The author Herman Charles Bosman, one of South-Africa's best known short story writers, held the Marico in high esteem. He wrote many wonderful stories full of humour about the Marico and its people.
Herman summed up Groot Marico thus: "There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South-Africa."
With its enchanting atmosphere and warm hospitality, the Groot Marico offers you a culturally rich holiday that's sure to relax and entertain you.